How to Word Your Invitations
There are countless possibilities when it comes to the wording of your invitations, however the traditional and formal phrasing is a good jumping off point no matter what kind of wedding you're planning. Here's the traditional wording (using Pippa Middleton as our example):
Mr. & Mrs. Michael Middleton
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Philippa Charlotte Middleton
James Spencer Matthews
Saturday, the twentieth of May
two thousand and seventeen
four o'clock in the afternoon
20 Deans Yard
Reception to follow
The format may change slightly if the wedding is hosted by multiple sets of parents, the groom’s parents or yourselves. But don't worry, it’s simply a matter of swapping out the names at the beginning of the invitation.
If you and your fiancé are more casual, it's completely OK to go more casual — the experts at Wedding Paper Divas recommend changing the spelled-out numbers to numerals, removing the hosts' name entirely, changing the phrasing to "Together with their families..." or if you want to be really straightforward "Philippa Charlotte Middleton and James Spencer Matthews Are Getting Married!"
What Should and Should Not Be Included
Although you have flexibility with the wording, there are three things that should always be included in your invitation: the who, the when and the where. The who should include the full names of the bride and groom, and if a formal invite, the name of the hosts, too. The when should clearly list the time, date, month and year of the event. Lastly, the where should include where the event is taking place, with a full address (though the zip code isn't necessary).
As a general rule of thumb, the main invitation should only include the necessary details of your wedding. However, the rest of your invitation suite should include information on attire, accommodation details, activities and a map with clear directions to any venues.
The Tricky Part: How to Address Them
Addressing your invites can definitely be tricky. Besides keeping track of titles, addresses and spelling, you also have to figure out the proper wording for all your invitations. Thanks to Wedding Paper Divas, we have the proper etiquette for addressing the outer and inner envelopes of your invites. If you're still lost, Wedding Paper Divas has a life-changing interactive tool to help you address invitations for everyone attending the wedding.
To a Married Couple
This is the most traditional form of addressing an invitation. Should you choose to include both persons' names, the outer envelope can be addressed as Mr. and Mrs. HIS_FIRSTNAME LASTNAME. An alternate version includes both names as Mr. FIRSTNAME and Mrs. FIRSTNAME LASTNAME. Example: Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy or Mr. Fitzwilliam and Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy.
To a Married Couple that Uses Different Last Names
It's best to list the person to whom you're closest to first on the outer and inner envelopes. If you know each one as well as the other, you may write them in alphabetical order. Example: Mr. John James Preston and Mrs. Carrie Bradshaw or Mrs. Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. John James Preston.
To an Unmarried Couple Living Together
Similar to the address for a married couple, both names should be included on the envelopes. Example: Mr. Ross Geller and Ms. Rachel Green.
To a Married Couple with a Hyphenated Last Name
Similar to the address for a married couple, both names should be included on the envelopes with Mr. FIRSTNAME LASTNAME and Mrs. FIRSTNAME LASTNAME-LASTNAME . Example: Mr. Gerry Kennedy and Mrs. Holly Reilly-Kennedy.
To Those with Distinguished Titles
If only one in the couple has a distinguished title, it is proper to write his or her name and title first. If the wife has the professional title, you will address her name depending on whether or not she uses her maiden name professionally. Example: Dr. Theodora Altman and Mr. Henry Burton or Dr. Theodora and Mr. Henry Burton.
If both parties are doctors with different last names, both their names can be written on the inner and outer envelopes. Example: Dr. Derek Shepherd and Dr. Meredith Grey.
If both parties are doctors with the same last name, you may address the envelopes as The TITLES LASTNAME. Example: The Doctors Avery.
Many of the same rules that you use for doctors also apply for military personnel, judges, reverends, etc. If both parties have distinguished titles, it is best to write the person with the highest rank first. Also, make note to add "The Honorable" to a title in the case of elected government positions, excluding the President. Example: The Honorable Governor of Illinois Peter Florrick and the Honorable State Attorney Alicia Florrick or Colonel Jane Burton, U.S. Army and Dr. Roland Burton.
To a Divorced Female
The best practice is to address her as either Mrs. or Ms. and use her maiden name if she doesn't use her former husband's surname. Example: Mrs. Liz Gilbert or Ms. Liz Gilbert.
To a Widow
Traditionally, you would use the deceased husband's last name in the address, as well as his first name. However, this depends greatly on her personal preference and what she will find respectful. Some choose to use their own first name, and sometimes also their own last name. If you're unsure, it's best to ask what she prefers. Example: Mrs. Charles Hamilton or Mrs. Scarlett Hamilton.
To Children and Families
Younger guests can be included on the inner envelope of their parents' invitation listed by first name. However, children are normally not addressed on the outer envelope. For girls under 18, you'll want to use "Miss." Boys don't require a title until they're 18. Example: Mr. and Mrs. Mike Brady.
To People 18 and Older
Unless they live at home with their parents, they should receive their own invitations. Example: Ms. Serena van der Woodsen.
If you come across a situation not included in the examples above, don't worry. Take a deep breath and head to Wedding Paper Divas for their a life-saving interactive tool, which will help you address any invitation to every guest invited to the big day.